The smile has left your eyes

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Carly lost everything, friendships triumph over romances, Ned and Valentin trumped Michael and Drew, and the teen sleuths are closing in on Esme. Join us as we discuss in this week's Two Scoops

Dear readers, it's been a minute since I have gotten to dish soaps with you. My husband and I took a 5,900-mile month-long road trip around the US. I've missed you!

I want to thank my friend Liz and new writer Steve for filling in for me in my absence. It was a mix of pain and pleasure, tears and singing. We also visited some sick and aging relatives, explored the USA, and spent time with friends. We saw some fantastic sights but spent way more than we budgeted, thanks to the rising cost of travel. But I have no regrets. If I'm poor when I'm older, I will have happy memories and exciting stories to tell.

In every state I visited, in every hotel room, we hooked up our Apple TV, and I cranked up GH on Hulu. Watching my crazy friends in Port Charles makes anywhere I am feel like home.

What a wild ride it's been. Watching this past week and seeing Carly lose her hotel made me excited about what happens next. It's been decades since Carly has been alone and down on her luck. Carly has hit rock bottom. She lost her best friend, Jason. Next, Carly lost her husband (again). She lost her fortune and her hotel. How will Carly survive this?

Will she go back to school and get her nursing degree? Will she sell that giant house and have her and the kids move in with Grandma Bobbie? Will she take Olivia's suggestion and ask Sonny for the money? Will she track down Jax and make peace with him to get to his hefty bank account? Since Ingo never returns, who would you like to see as a recast Jax? Will she end up in Martha Stewart's jail for her insider trading? I don't know, but I know whatever story they throw at her, Laura Wright will play the hell out of it.

Sometimes people complain that Carly gets more airtime than other characters. Still, I would rather watch Carly any day than sit through another scene with creepy Linc or watch Sasha popping pills in the Deception bathroom. Although when Lucy and Maxie were simultaneously yapping at her, I understood why she screamed at them to shut up.

I have been missing Jason lately. I keep wishing Bradford Anderson would have a heart-to-heart with his pal Steve Burton and persuade him to do whatever is necessary to come back to GH. Imagine how happy Britt would be to see him. By the way, congratulations to Kelly Thiebaud on her Emmy win; she's a delight, and I was so thrilled for her.

Jason was involved in so many people's lives for so long, I can't help but wonder, what would he be doing to help Liz? What would he be doing to help Carly? What would he be doing to catch Esme? I could write a million stories for Jason. His character was so integral. I feel like if he's unwilling to follow ABC's vaccine mandate, they should just recast the role. My first vote would be for Billy Miller, but I don't think he wants to come back.

Readers, since I was traveling during so many big storylines, please allow me to just formally say EWWWW about Esme and Nikolas. I'm guessing Esme is 18, but just barely. When I see these scenes, I try to put myself in the storyline. Can I see my mom trying to seduce one of my college boyfriends? NO. Can I see my dad hitting on one of my high school girlfriends? NO. I know it's very soapy and that the scenes that this affair will bring when it comes out into the open will be explosive, but still, it makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

I just wanted to shake Nikolas during Friday's scenes when he was falling for Esme's act. Was it her veiled threat of telling Ava about their fling? Or is he still buying her innocent waif act? Readers, I must hand it to Avery Pohl. She's a fantastic young actress. She can play evil and conniving and then play fragile and vulnerable. I sometimes believe her until I remember who her creepy daddy is.

I can't decide. I know their affair may not become public for a while, but I hope Ava pulverizes Esme when it does. Can you imagine if Ava slept with Spencer? I mean, she did sleep with Morgan while he was with Kiki, and then she slept with Sonny, so she won't be able to get too self-righteous. But I would like to see Nikolas' head explode if Ava revenge-seduced his son.

But ultimately, I want Spence with Trina, so scratch that. I know Trina is crushing on Rory, and I am glad he is helping her find evidence on Esme. But he's definitely not the one.

One romance I love right now is Anna and Valentin. I loved their drive-in movie date and how they gazed into each other's eyes. I cherish every moment they are on-screen together. But I worry. After all these years of obsessing over Anna, I fear that he will blow his one chance with her because of his shady side dealings with his newly found papa, Victor. Anna will absolutely discover that Valentin was the Frenchmen who framed Jennifer Smith. What will happen when she does?

Do you know which mystery I would like to see solved? Holly. Hey, GH writers, do you remember that you left Holly in a cell two years ago? Robert was weeping for a woman who was still alive. Will he ever find out? Will Holly ever be rescued? Will Ethan come back to visit Robert and run into a grown-up Kristina? I'd really love to see this resolved. Maybe Luke isn't dead at all. Perhaps he is in a cell with Holly, held by Victor. And remember that video Helena sent? Did anyone ever watch the end of it to see what she had to say? I would have. It might have been a mind game or a bomb warning. There was all this publicity that Constance Towers was back, and we only got a 30-second clip of a video of Helena that was never finished. More, please.

Sasha and Brando had a compelling love story, but now she loves her snack-size Ziploc baggy of pills more than she loves Brando. It bothers me because they are writing so many women as so weak. I have a friend who lost a child the same way Sasha did; her baby was stillborn, and she was crushed. Do you know what she did instead of popping pills? My treasured friend started a ministry to help other women who had lost children. After that soul-crushing loss, she and her husband leaned into that pain and chose to walk alongside other couples through the darkest season of their lives. They provided them with resources and love. She took her pain and turned it into a tangible positive force in the world. Why don't they ever write soap women who are that brave?

My dearest readers, Willow is pregnant, no doubt, but my hunch is that isn't all that is wrong with her. She had these death zombie eyes, and that's not from pregnancy. I can't decide if the makeup team was trying to make it look like she'd been punched in the eye or if she was just exhausted. She looks worse than drugged-out Sasha. I fear that when the rest of her tests come back, they will show something dire that will require a blood transfusion, a bone marrow transplant, or something only mommy Nina can provide, and Carly will have to fess up. And no offense to whoever blocked and directed that episode, but Willow's choreographed turn and fall into Sonny's arms when she fainted was so funny that I rewound it three times to laugh and laugh.

For those of you who think I hate Michael, I think my little friend Max from "Max Updates GH" said it best this week, "Michael, half jerk and half good." When Willow was sick, Michael stopped raging long enough to realize his wife was going through some serious things. It dawned on him that he made them worse by being "all jerk" and focusing on his vendetta with Sonny rather than caring about Willow's heartaches. I was happy to see that version of Michael is still in there somewhere. I enjoy that tender side of Michael. But I still do not and will not understand Michael's desire to destroy Sonny because his parents got divorced. I also don't understand Sonny's allegiance to Nina over his entire family. But don't get me going again.

If Michael is going to battle Sonny, let's make it enjoyable. Bring A.J. back from the dead and let Michael work with his bio dad to take him down. Sonny would never see that coming. Plus, A.J. is one of the many characters GH killed off hastily. Like Franco. I am still hoping his death was just a dream of Liz's pill-induced psychosis and that when she gets out of Shadybrook, he will be standing there like Bobby Ewing in soap days of yore.

Now, I must vent a bit about preemptions. Many times recently, GH has been preempted for breaking news. Okay, fine, I understand that important things are happening in our country that are more vital for us to hear about than soap operas. But seriously, can't ABC still stream the current day's episode when that happens? Say, "Today's episode of GH will be available on YouTube, Hulu, or after today's news coverage, or available on your local cable company's DVR to watch for free." Or something like that, and just let us watch it. Is there any legitimate reason not to do that? If so, please educate me. With all the heartache in the world right now, this show is our escape. Don't make us go without it for days when there are legitimate ways to ensure it airs Monday to Friday.

Do you remember when Sonny was back in Nixon Falls, and he went by Mike? I loved that guy. He had a sparkle in his eyes. "Mike" laughed a lot, wore a cowboy hat, and square danced. Yeah, that guy was fun.

Remember before Nixon Falls when Sonny was Sonny, and he was super passionate and intense, and he occasionally threw things across the room and had threatening talks with his enemies? Yeah, that guy was very compelling and exciting to watch.

But for me, this hybrid "Mike"/Sonny -- he's neither fun nor compelling. He's caught in this limbo between two worlds, and the writers must decide which way he is going. I absolutely love Maurice Benard. I'm crazy about him. So do not think I am dissing him at all. But Sonny isn't with Carly, and he isn't with Nina. He's not speaking to his kids (except Dante), and he hired a poser to work for him. Sonny would never have trusted a stranger that way before.

He's lost his instincts and his edge. He's not standing up for his kids. He's not running his business other than casual chats with Ms. Wu. When Brook Lynn went to him for help, he was worried about if Chase would look dirty for accepting his help. Since when? Nuts. Old Sonny would have had Max and Milo take Linc for a ride and scare the crap out of him, and he would have never spoken to Brooke Lynn again. C'mon, man, let Sonny be Sonny again, or let him be "Mike" again, but don't leave him in purgatory, waiting to find his heaven.

While Sonny was presumed dead, his family and friends mourned him for months, and after a brief joyful reunion, the writers wrote him out of his life. He has no scenes with Kristina (although with Lexi Ainsworth on the way back, I'm hopeful). He hasn't had a scene with Avery or Donna for weeks. His only scenes with Michael are the two of them screaming at each other. Some of the most engaging scenes he has gotten to play are his scenes with dead Ghost Lenny and his scenes at Charlie's with Phyllis. The writers must find a way to write Sonny out of the corner they have put him in. Just like Baby.

Next topic. A curiosity... There is a big storyline about Liz, but one key factor is missing from the storyline... Liz. For months, we had the buildup of who was tormenting Liz. Was it Franco back from the dead? (Oh, how I wished for that outcome.) Was it Heather or Betsy Frank? Was it one of Franco's victims back for revenge? Had Liz developed DID and had an alternate personality? The suspense was building! But the payoff was a big "womp womp" -- it was just Liz sleepwalking from the side effects of sleeping pills.

So, the solution would be "Take Liz off the pills and send her home." Instead, they checked her into Shadybrook, and she hasn't been seen for weeks. Finn, a guy she just barely started dating, is taking her kids on camping trips, and everyone is discussing her health, but we haven't had a scene of Liz in Shadybrook, talking to her therapist about how wrecked she was after Franco died. Is Rebecca Herbst on vacation? Is she in contract negotiations? I really want to know what's going on. Liz is one of my favorites, and I am anxious about her return.

It would be great timing for her to return, since she is one of the people in Port Charles who genuinely had a relationship with Drew before his supposed death. When the role of Drew was first recast, and we saw him languishing in prison, carving Scout's name into the stone, I was intrigued. When he finally returned to Port Charles and had those precious scenes with Sam and Scout, I was riveted. But we haven't had a Scout sighting since, and Drew and Sam have barely crossed paths. He had a joyful reunion with Monica, and we have hardly seen her since then. It all started out so promising. I anticipated that Drew would be a foil for Dante and Sam, although I enjoy the two of them together.

Rumor has it that the writers had to rewrite their planned storylines due to Steve Burton's departure. If Steve isn't coming back, recast Jason, carry on with your original plot, and let Drew see the daughter he longed for while he was held captive.

The Drew and Carly connection isn't easy for me to swallow because the second the original Jason returned and Carly realized Drew wasn't her BFF, she and Sonny dropped Drew down to B team level. He went from being their closest ally to a casual acquaintance. They'd say hi to him if they saw him at the grocery store, but they didn't invite him over for Fourth of July barbecues.

Question, does Drew still have Jason's memories? Did they ever give him back his own memories? Either I missed something, or I don't remember.

Okay, now a total side note. I just want to send a little love to the GH costume team. This week, Gladys had on a very glam blue pantsuit that I loved; très chic! Curtis had a shirt in his scene with Trina that made him look even more handsome, if that's possible. (I wholly expect Soap Central guru Dan to call me a hussy again, but I know hot when I see it.) And Sam has had a total fashion transformation since she has been with Dante. I like everything I have seen her in, especially that floral dress from Friday. So gorgeous. Brook Lynn has gotten out of her blazers and has been wearing some adorable outfits lately. I notice and appreciate the change. Not to mention all the poolside outfits at the Metro Court pool. I love fashion and have been seriously enjoying the great sense of style the GH costume department has been cranking out. Kudos.

Do you know my favorite relationships on GH right now? They aren't romances. They are friendships. I love the camaraderie with Cam and Spencer. First off, Nicholas Chavez (Congrats on your well-deserved Emmy!) and William Lipton (Also Emmy-worthy, IMHO) have such natural chemistry together. Their scenes are constantly so enjoyable. I love the dynamic -- part genuine friendship, with hints of rivalry and annoyance. I think they could be the next generation of Luke and Robert -- having adventures, getting into trouble, and having each other's backs. I just adore them both.

Also, Trina and Joss. Tabyana Ali and Eden McCoy are adorable together. I was worried when Sydney Mikayla left, but GH struck gold twice in the Trina casting department. I miss Sydney, but Tabyana has taken excellent care of Trina and has me rooting for her, just like our original Trina. Joss and Trina going to a biker bar to do some Nancy Drew-style sleuthing was a great scene, and I love their friendship. I love that the strength of their bond kept Esme's plot to frame Trina from splitting up their friendship. They have staying potential.

This leads me to Anna and Felicia. Finola Hughes and Kristina Wagner have been playing off one another for years, which shows in Anna and Felicia's easy and adorable friendship. Just seeing them on the screen together makes my heart smile.

Although it is new, the relationship Laura is forming with her new brother Martin is also delightful to watch. I'm also looking forward to seeing Laura and Cyrus' relationship grow -- the groundwork was laid in the 15,000th episode of GH when Laura told Cyrus she forgave him. Can a little acceptance from his sister help his prison salvation become real? (Another heartfelt congratulation to Emmy winner Jeff Kober!)

I also love the support everyone on the GH staff is giving Nurse Epiphany as she studies to become a doctor, like Portia, who keeps giving her pep talks and genuinely believes in her success.

I can't leave out Brad and Britt because the two of them together are always a joy, and they make my heart smile. They are both such flawed but genuinely lovable characters. I am also incredibly moved by the Britt and Spencer friendship. His apology to Britt this week made me tear up a little. I can hardly wait until he can tell her what he's been up to. The GH writing team does much better with friendships than romances nowadays.

And it isn't that they can't write a good romance. They can. The GH writers wrote Julian and Alexis and then crushed them. They wrote Liz and Franco and then destroyed them. They wrote Britt and Jason and then crushed them. They wrote Ava and Nikolas, and now, they are about to crush them. I feel like one of the writers must be very bitter about love and does this on purpose to work out his frustrations. Get some counseling, buddy.

Readers, I would be lying if I didn't tell you I was celebrating when Team Valentin and Ned beat out Drew and Michael. I am wild about Ned and Valentin, so A) I like that they teamed up, and B) I wanted to see smarmy Michael taken down a notch. Ned was right. He has spent most of his adult life devoted to ELQ, and being roughly the same age as Ned, I know how it feels when the people above you decide to put you out to pasture. Plus, without Charlotte around, and after losing Bailey, Valentin deserved to win. He's making money for the company, and in these times, I'd vote for anyone who was making money to stay in power. Have you checked your 401k lately? If you haven't, don't. It's ugly.

What will happen tomorrow, dear readers? Will anyone else fall in the pool fully dressed and become a gif? Will Olivia keep whining about not being in the loop, even though no one can tell her anything because she has a big blabbermouth? Will anyone ever notice Austin was gone, or was he just a figment of Liz's imagination all this time? Will Liesl eventually accept Scott's proposal, or does she secretly harbor feelings for Victor? Will Cody ever wash the blood off his face? Will Michael and Willow pick a less annoying name for their new baby than Wiley? (No offense to any Wileys out there. They just say his name so many times.)

Will you be mad at me if I say I liked seeing Michael and Sasha together this week? Will Chance recognize he's into Brook Lynn, or will we need three more scenes of Gregory and Finn trying to drop hints for him to figure it out? Will Esme showing up at the pool ruin Cameron's master plan? (They should have factored that in; she always shows up at inopportune moments.) Will Kevin tire of Esme's cat and mouse game with Esme and just get Ryan transferred to a facility far away? Will Ava try to steal Scott from Liesl after she and Nikolas split? Will Elizabeth ever get to be part of the major storyline about Elizabeth?

Only tomorrow knows, dear readers, and I will tune in as long as there are tomorrows.

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Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of Soap Central or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen and what has happened, and to share their opinions on all of it. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same point of view.

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